Last year when Typhoon was staying at my house in Colorado Springs, they taped two mics to the top of my Dyson vacuum cleaner and set up a tiny recording studio in my downstairs half-bath. I was at work but they sent me photo proof, and my humble bathroom has felt blessed by the divine ever since.
You & I can finally hear the results of that afternoon — most excellently a part of an entire album of Portland bands covering the Beach Boys’ 1967 album Smiley Smile. It also features the delicious Fuel/Friends house show alums Radiation City (who I don’t think recorded anything at my house but WHO KNOWS), as well as other Portland talents.
The whole Portland Smiles album is for sale at Tender Loving Empire, along with a beer koozie that if they send to me I promise to use in that bathroom. For them.
A few of my dear readers have found purpose and meaning in facial hair and have started a blog chronicling their moustache progress from April 1 until May 5 (“growing season”), thus joining the Cinco de Moustache movement. Important topics such as “World’s greatest moustaches” (yes, Tom Selleck is in there) and “Take baby pictures of your moustache” are covered. One of these guys won my Stranger Than Fiction book title competition a few months back by saying if he wrote a book of his life, it would be entitled: “Facial Failure: My Everyday Struggle to Grow a Moustache (and Sideburns) that looks neither Pervy nor Predatory.” So there’s a precedent here.
Good luck, men. Be strong. And may the best . . . follicles win?
Music for the growing season:
Amy (Ryan Adams cover) Mark Ronson I don’t even know what to think of this concept album as a whole (see tracklist), but darned if I have to admit that I like this reinvention of Ryan Adams as fat-beat bossa nova soul funk from British DJ Mark Ronson. You can dance to it, and I’d never expect it to work but I think it does. Ronson says “With Version, I’ve taken these songs that I love and turned them into Motown/Stax 70′s versions. I keep the utmost respect and appreciation for the original songs I use. I’m just trying to find something in it, add something to the arrangement or change a groove. It’s not like I’m thinking it’s a shit song that I can make good, it’s more like it’s a great song and I’m now going to make it bounce.” Thanks to reader Sara for the download link.
California Saga (On My Way To Californ-i-a) Beach Boys With summer coming, everyone should own at least one really good collection of Beach Boys songs. You’ve got myriad albums and repackaged reissues to choose from – I am liking the sunburned harmonies of their newest money grab album release The Warmth Of The Sun. Out May 22 on Capitol, it’s got a few “new stereo mixes,” plus some songs notably featured in popular movies lately (Feel Flows from Almost Famous and Sail On, Sailor from The Departed) and lots of oldie goodies. You really can’t go wrong. I loved this particular song because listening to it was like playing a game of “Have You Ever” with the Beach Boys, with all the places in CA they’re asking if you’ve been. I was like, “yes, yes, and yes.”
Trouble Acute So for those paying attention at home, Los Angeles band Acute (featuring ex-members of Ozma and Poulain) just announced a string of tour dates supporting Jesse Malin. Jesse hasn’t announced these dates yet, but let’s just say . . . I know where I’ll be on June 15. I really like the new Acute album Arms Around A Stranger (May 1, Help Records). It’s produced by Dave Trumfio (Grandaddy, Wilco, My Morning Jacket) and shares some of that golden alt-pop goodness.
Destiny Calling James I can’t believe I haven’t posted this song before, but the advent of the upcoming release of Manchester band James‘ greatest hits double album (Fresh As A Daisy: The Singles, due next month on Universal) gives me just cause. Even though this tune originally came out in 1998 from James (think, “This bed is on fire with passion and love…”) I just heard it fairly recently and it’s been on one of my most-listened-to mixes in the car for months. A song about fame and being loved (and the fleeting nature of those things) set to these melodic jangly chords that I can always picture being hit with a flourish. I also love to sing the opening lines in my best Mancunian accent (that is to say, not very well).
Diamonds In The Dark Mystery Jets I’d read the NME yammering on about the hot UK superstars Mystery Jets for months, but didn’t pay much attention until I got their new album (Zootime, on Hollywood’s Dim Mak label May 8) in the mail yesterday. This is the lead-off teack and I find myself enjoying the Morrissey-esque vocals and the thrumming bass line. And then . . . I found out that the lead singer’s dad is in the band. That is so oddball and rad I don’t even know where to start. If I ever started a band and wanted to follow their model that means my dad could join and play trumpet — from his days in the Army. He does a mean Taps.
Spring is finally on the verge of … springing here in Colorado. There are new layers of green outside my front door everytime I look, and I think my tulips (which I didn’t plant myself, but remain an annual treat from the previous green-thumbed owner) are poised to bloom any day. There’s also a gorgeous bush covered in breathtaking yellow flowers right outside my kitchen window, so I don’t even mind doing the dishes lately. Hooray for Spring, I’ve been color-starved and sunshine-starved, even though I try to make the best of it.
Side note: there is a fantastic/rotten new entry over at ThingsMyBoyfriendSays.com that I ain’t gonna post here but just made laugh for a solid minute or so…
But let’s just move it along, people. Here’s the music, with an appropriate first track for the revelling in the Spring sunshine.
Laissez Briller Le Soleil(“Let the sun shine”?) Les Boots Every once in a while on the music blogs that I regularly read, someone throws out a curveball that just catches you offgaurd in the most marvelous way. Aquarium Drunkard has a “French Freakbeat” series up now (parts one and two) of fuzzy, garage harmonies from Gallic groups of the Sixties. Info is scant, but apparently this is “a rare bootleg collection that explores mid 1960s mod-influenced psychedelia of French bands that were paying strict attention to their British brethren, most notably The Small Faces.” I love the way this sounds — it’s as if your little transistor radio suddenly picks up a station across the Atlantic with sounds that are vaguely familiar but altogether fresh. Grab the whole set. Soooo good, right up my alley.
No Pussy Blues Grinderman Following my post referencing the great Nick Cave tune (and the Pearl Jam cover of) “The Ship Song,” reader Joe recommended that I check out Cave’s new band with 3 of his Bad Seeds — Grinderman, saying it was “raw, dirty, superb!” Any song titled No Pussy Blues definitely tends towards the raw and fairly dirty; it’s also humorous as he details his efforts in vain to get the unnamed female to acquiesce in his growling, pointed storytelling. This is off their forthcoming 2007 self-titled release on Anti Records (US). Blistering.
Gospel The National Speaking of Nick Cave, the voice of Matt Berninger always reminds me a bit of Cave in its deep and dramatic resonation. The forthcoming 4th album from Brooklyn’s The National, Boxer (May 22, Beggars Banquet label) leaked its way onto the interwebby this weekend and I’ve been truly enjoying feeling my way through it. It’s a rich, melodic, gorgeous album with lyrics aching of romantic disillusionment and raw desire — I had a hard time picking just one track to share. This is an album that I really look forward to delving into and relishing on repeat; first impressions are very solid.
Never Learn Not To Love Beach Boys/Charles Manson So you all know that I enjoy enriching my brain with backstories and random little snippets of musical history that fall through the cracks. The Spinner blog has a fascinating little story on how the Golden State’s finest exports ended up recording the music of a psychotic murderer. Although the original writing credits of this song, which was first released as a b-side to cheery “Bluebirds Over The Mountain,” list only Dennis Wilson as the author, the truth would include a credit for the wild-eyed Chuck Manson as well for his earlier version — creepily entitled “Cease To Resist.” Who knew that underneath all that sunshine and chiming harmonies there was a secret more sinister.
Strawberry Street Jeff Buckley Oooh, and finally how about a b-side from my beloved Jeff Buckley? This is one that I’d never heard before, unearthed by the superb Sweet Oblivion blog and ripped directly from the vinyl single of the great song “Forget Her.” It was also a hidden track on the Australian edition of Grace. This song was written by Jeff before he moved to NYC in 1993, and it is Jeff at his most waily, electric, Led-Zeppelin-loving best.
And holy goodness (!!), I’ve been waiting for this news for a long time: The critically-acclaimed film festival favorite Jeff Buckley documentary Amazing Grace will finally be released by Columbia/Legacy on May 22 for purchase. I’ve heard nothing but revelatory raves about it but missed all screenings ever near me; add your name here to be updated on purchase information. I cannot wait to settle in to watch that one.
The Departed is Martin Scorsese’s visceral new flick: 2 1/2 hours of a tightly intelligent plotline, fascinating character studies, lots of caffeinated jump-cut cinematography, more “f**ck”s than you can shake a stick at, and a greater nunber of brains being blown out at close range than I personally care to see.
I guess I’ll never infiltrate the Boston mob (because all the violence truthfully left me feeling a little nauseated), but the soundtrack left me elated and tapping my foot furiously in my red velvet rocking seat. Here is a sampling of what you’ll hear, woven into the film at exactly the right places. The soundtrack is really superb, just what you’d expect from Scorsese: The Rolling Stones capture that rough & tumble Seventies inner-city swagger, while Van Morrison lends his pipes to a lovely live version of Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb” during a scene of gnawing loneliness and aching lust. John Lennon’s in there, as are the Isley Brothers, the Beach Boys, Dropkick Murphys, Patsy Cline, and even Nas. It’s a real joy to listen to.
Speaking of soundtracks, keep those fantastic comments coming for that contest I opened up on Friday! I am immensely enjoying all the articulate and passionate rambles about the movie music that you love. I’ve added several films to my Netflix queue that I’d overlooked, and have been re-appreciating the classiness of the Rushmore soundtrack all weekend. Keep it up, and it’s gonna be delightfully hard to nail the winner.
Name: Heather Browne Location: Colorado, originally by way of California Giving context to the torrent since 2005.
"I love the relationship that anyone has with music: because there's something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. It's the best part of us, probably, the richest and strangest part..."
—Nick Hornby, Songbook
"Music has always been a matter of energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel." —Hunter S. Thompson
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